People who behave abusively are accountable for their actions. They may not recognize it as abusive behavior especially when they are family.
We all struggle when abuse shows up in relationships of people we know and care about.
What is abuse? It is when someone limits or controls the rights and freedoms of another. The abuser uses power of influence to take advantage of another.
Abuse is a misuse of power and may be verbal, physical, financial, sexual or spiritual. Neglect is also abuse.
- Abused as a child
- Deteriorating health
- Dependent on others
- Cognitive impairment
NOTE: be careful not to jump to conclusions
- Individual seems depressed and withdrawn
- They stop participating in their usual activities
- There does not appear to be sufficient food in the house
- Absence of cleaning
- A sudden new “friend” moves in
- Items are disappearing
- Services discontinued
- Bruises visible and reports of injuries
What to do?
Abuse of any kind is unforgivable and silence only perpetuates the cycle.
See it – trust your instincts, if it doesn’t seem right, it likely isn’t
Name it – state your concern to the individual involved to open the door to communication.
Check it – follow up and see if it continues
You don’t have to solve the problem. Your priorities are safety for you and the individual and respect. Do it when the abuser is not present. Listen carefully and respect if they do not want to talk about it. You have opened the door for sharing down the road.
Teach the older adults in your life the “Help Me!” hand signal.
The signal is performed by holding one hand up with the thumb tucked into the palm, then folding the four other fingers down, symbolically trapping the thumb in the rest of the fingers.
Remember: Abuse of any kind is unforgivable, and silence only perpetuates the cycle.
Get Help: Visit the Canadian Network for Prevention of Elder Abuse website.